Pales­tini­ans say UAE deal hin­ders quest for Mideast peace

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD -

JERUSALEM — Is­rael’s agree­ment to es­tab­lish diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emi­rates marks a wa­ter­shed mo­ment in its re­la­tions with Arab coun­tries, but the Pales­tini­ans say it puts a just res­o­lu­tion of the Mid­dle East con­flict even far­ther out of reach.

The UAE pre­sented its de­ci­sion to up­grade long-stand­ing ties to Is­rael as a way of en­cour­ag­ing peace ef­forts by tak­ing Is­rael’s planned an­nex­a­tion of parts of the oc­cu­pied West Bank off the ta­ble, some­thing Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu swiftly re­buffed by in­sist­ing the pause was “tem­po­rary.”

From the Pales­tinian per­spec­tive, the UAE not only failed to stop an­nex­a­tion, which would dash any re­main­ing hopes of es­tab­lish­ing a vi­able, in­de­pen­dent state. It also un­der­mined an Arab con­sen­sus that recog­ni­tion of Is­rael only come in re­turn for con­ces­sions in peace talks — a rare source of lever­age for the Pales­tini­ans.

“I never ex­pected this poi­son dag­ger to come from an Arab coun­try,” Saeb Erekat, a se­nior Pales­tinian of­fi­cial and vet­eran ne­go­tia­tor, said Fri­day. “You are re­ward­ing ag­gres­sion. … You have de­stroyed, with this move, any pos­si­bil­ity of peace be­tween Pales­tini­ans and Is­raelis.”

The Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity is­sued a scathing state­ment in re­sponse to the move, call­ing it a “be­trayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Pales­tinian cause,” lan­guage clearly aimed at in­flam­ing Arab and Mus­lim sen­ti­ment world­wide.

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